Have you ever been in a session with a student that is struggling with navigating the components of the activity or conversation planned?
As you begin implementing scaffolded prompts with the activity, you find that the child is needing a LOT of verbal and visual support to get through the activity.
By the end of the session, you may even be thinking, “I need to figure out a different way to teach the structure of the conversation.”
That’s what happened to me when I wanted to teach two of my student’s conversation skills for playing, Go Fish. I did the activity with no visuals and gave auditory directions.
It became quickly apparent that both my students were lost with the rules of the game and the language to use during each turn. So, I verbally and visually prompted EVERY.SINGLE.TURN.
The kids did not improve with their understanding of the game. I chalked it up to them just learning the game for the first time. So, I tried the next session in the same manner. There wasn’t much progress even with all the prompting I was providing.
After the session, I went back and reflected on what was missing from that social interaction. That’s when I realized that I needed some visual supports to help reduce the cognitive load of understanding the steps of the game and a visual cue to guide my students what they could say when it was their turn in the game.
What I discovered when I began using visual supports
That’s when I discovered conversation scripts and made one for the game Go Fish. My next session was entirely different because of the conversation script. My students were able to take turns in the game, use some of the language necessary for the activity, and I was prompting less and less by the end of the session.
After that session, I became hooked on using conversation scripts to help provide structure to social interactions. If you want to grab that FREE Go Fish conversation script, click the pink button below! To read more about Go Fish, head to this blog post.
Today, I am going to explain what conversation scripts are and how you can use them to increase student participation with social communication.
What are conversation scripts?
A conversation script is a set of dialogue that can be used in specific contexts communication situations. Imagine an actor using a script to learn their lines for a movie scene. Having a script of words a child can use to communicate in a social situation is beneficial for the child because it allows them the opportunity to participate in a social communication exchange. When they can be successful with communicating, this helps build language, social pragmatics, play skills, and self-help skills. A script contains questions and comments that a student would need to say in specific social situations such as asking to go to the bathroom, playing with Legos during free choice time, or how to ask a friend to play ball with them at recess.
How do you make conversation scripts for students?
Scripts may have written words and picture cues to help lend support to students that are non-readers or need visuals. The SLP or classroom teacher/staff can read the script while prompting the child to use it. Another option to use an auditory script with a voice recording app. You can write a script as a single word or gesture, to full sentences.
Researchers have found that scripts can increase interactions and conversational speech. Using conversation scripts can also help with the generalization of these skills across new people and settings (school, community, home.) Often times, conversation scripts increase the occurrence of positive behaviors for a situation as well as improve vocational skills.
Who can implement conversation scripts with students?
Scripting can be taught and implemented by teachers, special educators, therapists, paraprofessionals, and early interventionists in educational and community-based environments. Parents and family members also can use scripting in the home setting. And, the awesome news is that conversation scripts are useful for preschool to high school-aged students, so it is a very versatile tool to use! Plus, I have even used conversation scripts to help with articulation carryover. You can grab more info and a FREE script template here.
What’s the BIG end goal for helping our students with conversation?
At the end of the day, we want our students to be independently communicating. Hopefully, they learn the foundations of social-pragmatic skills, so that they can understand the structure of conversation to communicate their thoughts, feelings, disagreements, protests, etc. without support for IEP team members. So, if you and the IEP team is always verbally and visually prompted the student to communicate, our students will struggle with figuring out what to say on their own in new, novel situations.
That’s why a conversation script is a tool to help create a structure to a conversation that not only helps reduce the cognitive demands on navigating the social interaction, it also helps provide reminders for the SLP, teacher, para educators, and parents to gesturally cue the student rather than overly prompt them on what to say. In the long run, with most of the studies involving conversation scripts, the research suggests that a gradual fading of the script is the preferred method as it supports great independence and generalization of the script to new communication partners and contexts.
Listen to this podcast episode about conversation scripts
If you are wanting to learn more about conversation scripts and how to know if they could be a good fit for your students, check out this Real Talk SLP podcast episode where I talk about how to use conversation scripts with your students.
Don’t forget to grab your free Go Fish conversation script to use with your students. I LOVE seeing my resources in action, so make sure to tag me on social media @thedabblingspeechie with this script in action.
Leveled and Editable Conversation Scripts for Bubbles
Doing a fun play-based activity such as bubbles can be a great opportunity for implementing a conversation script because children almost ALWAYS dig playing with bubbles.
With this conversation script for bubble blowing, you will have leveled scripts that are editable, so you can change out the pictures and written text to match exactly what your student would want to say.
This helps the script feel natural and individual to the student’s needs. Plus, it also saves you time because if you like the script as is, you just hit that PRINT button and you are ready to go for therapy. Grab this conversation script HERE.
What questions do you have?
So, if you are very intrigued with using conversation scripts, but have more questions, ask away. There ain’t any dumb questions in my neck of the woods. Just drop it in the comments and I will try to answer is ASAP! Take care.